Miss Green – as she is known by others – is a prominent figure at OLEM. Eighty six years old, and although she now moves slowly, she remains the driving force of CAFOD activity in the parish.
“I’m just a fundraiser for CAFOD. That’s what I do” she declared.
“Let’s get cracking”, Miss Green says as she consults her small notebook.
She taught at Saint Mary’s Girls School (where she went as a child), and Saint Andrews (before it became St Alban’s Primary School). After teaching all across the country, when her father died and her mother was severely crippled with arthritis, she returned to Cambridge to look after them. Her favourite class is Year 6 and Year 7. Although she no longer goes into the schools herself, she praises Mary Watkins, another local CAFOD volunteer for the “tremendous work that she does with the school”. Nonetheless, having been involved in the life of the parish and its people, indeed having taught many of them, gives her a distinct advantages she says. “I have a great circle of people that I know who will do things for me if I ask them”.
While she has saved herself “the bother” of having a committee until now, as soon as I sit down she explains that she is now looking for help. “One thing we’ll definitely need – we don’t have one at the moment but we’ll definitely need one – is a small committee. I’ll have to give up at any moment. When you reach my age you know it is going to happen soon. I wouldn’t want CAFOD to die with me.”
At the moment she remains full of life, an impressive and determined figure, an avid CAFOD supporter. “And you can call me Catherine”.
Here she shares her top ten parish fundraising activities:
1) Each month Catherine puts up a notice on the CAFOD board of what has been raised and what for. People can look at it and see what they have donated. At the end of the year she lists the gift totals for each month. Twice a year she works out the gift aid for the family fast at Lent and Harvest. She lists this separately, so people know that it is worth doing gift aid; that the government then also owes money to CAFOD.
“There can easily be a gift of £100 and another person may give £5, each are equally important. I’ll put in the notice donations £105 (£100 and £5). It is terribly important to acknowledge and thank people for their gifts. I wouldn’t want anyone wondering.”
2) In Lent OLEM have a Hunger Lunch, every Wednesday after midday mass. Having it on a Wednesday means we can fit in another week because Lent starts on a Wednesday.
“When Antoinette came the quality of the soup went up from her cooking, and we have bread and cheese to go with it. I’ve had £140 on at least four occasions. I put the bowl out and around 20 people will attend the lunches. The number of people coming always dwindles over the course of Lent. People sit down together and talk to one another, people who wouldn’t normally sit with one another, and that’s so important. People use it as part of their Lenten discipline, and the lunches bring in £300-400.”
3) Like many other parishes, OLEM serves parishioners with coffee and tea after the 9:30 and 10:45 Mass on Sunday every week. The profit from that is for CAFOD. There is no charge but saucers are put out. That will bring in £30-40 each month. Over the course of the year it is very worthwhile.
4) Catherine Green persuades Nigel Kerry, the organist, who knows lots of people who like to sing and want an audience, to collaborate with her. “We have concerts of Christmassy music during Advent after the Monday midday mass. Those who have been singing enjoy it, those who listen enjoy it, and CAFOD enjoys it as it gets another £100 money from the collection. It is advertised in the bulletin but we don’t need to put in more work than that.”
5) “Soiries, that sounds so high-falutin” he says. “I’ve held Jazz nights twice. That will bring in around £300. There is a problem with the law about how many people you can seat in the parish hall. We give then a free numbered ticket, and so we know how many people are coming and can stop another 40 people attending. You can have more people standing, but not offer them chairs to sit down. It is up to them if they bring refreshments and a bottle of wine. The only thing we provide on the night is coffee. Its up to them what they bring. However, they have to pay to get out.”
6) As well as helping Catherine organise these jazz sessions, Dave Bardell and his wife also help Mark Brett organise the Friday Breakfasts. “We have mass at 7:30 on the first Friday of every month instead of 8:00 so people can then go through to the rectory for CAFOD breakfast, just rolls and things.”
7) Catherine Green describes a simple and easy activity, but one which can engage lots of people in a meaningful way based on collection boxes, but with a neat twist. “The pyramid boxes we give out for people to take home and decorate before brining them back to the Epiphany.”
8) “I got £186 from the unwanted Christmas Present sale. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I don’t price things. I just say give what you think its worth. Then I don’t offend anyone for the price I’m charging for their gift. I usually hold this at the end of January or early February. People know to expect it, so they can save up their unwanted gifts for this sale. The Salvation Army shop across the way gets the few things left over. I put that in the bulletin too so people know it was used well.”
9) Something you can do with children is a sponsored wine gum suck. We used to do this at school. They would sit on the grass that you wouldn’t normally be allowed to sit on so that was part of the treat. It would just be for half an hour, so people would know that its only 30 minutes. The trick was to not ask for a lot of money, but to ask lots of people. You don’t want people to refuse the next time because they’ve already done their bit; you don’t want to lose your customers. For everyone’s point of view it was a treat. Half an hour of silence is quite relaxing – quite something.
10) “At the drop of a hat I’ll have a raffle. I’m having one at my funeral. I was asked to do it at a funeral and I got £600 in lieu of flowers that would have only lasted a day. It’s so sensible. I went to one funeral and there were 63 wreaths of flowers. I know she loved flowers, but when they cost at least £15 each, the money could be better spent.”
“I’ve got all sorts of things for raffles. I have a bread-maker that has been used twice. Well, that’s worth £1 a ticket isn’t it. I put up a large piece of paper in large squares and people put their surname in and a phone number. Its a bit like a lottery. The next Sunday I can put in the bulletin that number 47 has won. I’ll have phoned them and they’ll have come and collected them. I get given presents for the raffle, and so does the Parish Pastoral Assistant.”
Miss Green suggested many more activities, including B-B-Qs and quizzes, and giving particular credit to the “two excellent deacons we have at OLEM”, one of whom makes marmalade throughout the year. “We give him our jars and he makes the marmalade”. The profit he makes from from his sales go to CAFOD and raise over £100 each year.
“I’ve always been a volunteer in lots of ways at the parish. When I retired, I spent three years travelling. When I got back I though I should settle into something a bit more serious. I was a member of the Justice and Peace group but I was a bit fed up of all the talk. I thought we’ve all got the message but we need to do something. I asked the priest, who’s the dooer for CAFOD. Col. Phelps had done it but died. I didn’t want to tread on anyone’s toes, but Mrs Phelps was very encouraging. Back then, the parish had raised £1,000 from the last family fast. So I craftily put the target at £1,000. I thought if I didn’t know this is what they could do, then no one else would know. Knowing this was the capacity I put the target a little bit further. Then with lots of praise for getting there, lots of thank-yous so they definitely knew we had raised it.”
Catherine Green died in May 2016. She had handed over responsibility for organising CAFOD activities in the parish and was pleased to see a wide group of volunteers distribute parish envelopes at Fast Days and help with other social and fundraising activities.
She had been our Parish Volunteer for 26 years, helping many parts of a very large parish engage with CAFOD in different ways – often appearing in the top ten parishes in England and Wales.
Let us pray for the repose of her soul. Amen.